Why is Monday the first of July so important in the rugby world judicial system? Answer we could be looking at two very important decisions to me made, both with potential to show big statements and both will be picked to pieces by many a journalist and supporters with their own verdicts.
The two cases in hand is the James Horwill retrial over the stamp on Alun Wyn Jones and Leicester Tigers coach Richard Cockerill's hearing as he is alleged to have used obscene, inappropriate and/or unprofessional language and behaviour towards fourth official Stuart Terheege.
Much has been debated, dissected and chewed over in regards to James Horwill. There was a huge disbelief that Horwill escaped any sanctions, some believed it was deserved and some felt it would harsh if he was punished. Regardless of your views on the incident it went unpunished, although it did cause a huge furore in the rugbying world. With such a high profile series and Australian captain being seemed to 'get off likely' by an Australian panel the IRB decided to review the process. The IRB's decision was met with a sense of trepidation as to some it showed little faith in their own disciplinary process, but their decision to hold it after the second test raised even more questions. One question in particular is
"if they are that concerned with the result of the first hearing why allow him to play in the second?"
By allowing Horwill to play in the second test was going to be a controversial issue, being the captain the on field decisions will be made by him and if Australia win his presence could of aided that victory. This is exactly what happened, Horwill opting to take a scrum rather than a kick at goal resulting in several phases of pressure from Australia and leading to Adam Ashley Cooper's try. The try that gave them the lead and ultimately victory.
If the IRB decide to administer a ban to Horwill it will be seen to make even more of a mockery of their systems and the whole farcical situation will become much more than a player being seen to stamp on another players head, but more to the point what could the IRB done to avoid this and will they put a full review on their whole judicial process?
Regardless of the outcome now it's more how can the IRB save face and try to make good some poor handling of the issue, for me it will take a miracle as there is no way of leaving this red faced.
Love him or hate him the controversial figure of Richard Cockerill will also be up in front of a judicial panel for an alleged outburst at a fourth official at the Aviva premiership final back in May. His outburst came after a late tackle by Courtney Lawes flattening Toby Flood was only deemed as a penalty, this riled Cockerill greatly and went to the fourth official to vent his anger.
The same fixture saw Dylan Hartley swear at referee Wayne Barnes earning himself a red card and a 11 week ban that excluded him from the Lions tour.
We are all aware of Cockerill's out spoken manner and at times pushes the boundaries to extremes.
Cockerill's response at the end of the match: "I am allowed to talk to officials about what is happening on the field. I will talk to whoever I want. I said to the fourth official that the Lawes tackle should have been referred to the TMO, as has been the case all season. It was foul play with the sanction of a yellow card or potentially more."
Cockerill had a warning from the RFU earlier in the season after criticising the way referee Andrew Small was dealing with the scrum during their victory over Gloucester at Welford Road.
Another indiscretion came in 2009, where he was delivered a four-week touchline ban, meaning he could have no contact with his team on match days, for verbally abusing referee Tim Wigglesworth during an LV Cup match with Newport Gwent Dragons.
With such a history of disrespect for match officials will the RFU administer a fitting punishment? A player is heavily sanctioned for such behaviour so should a director of rugby be treated in the same manner.........answer Surely should be yes. What message would it send out across rugby if you have one rule for one and yet different for others, it comes back to delivering consistency in rugby.
Although things don't seem to be quite so cut and dry, the delay in announcing the there had been a citing goes against the RFU's rules. According to the RFU’s own regulations, dated August 2012 'any citing should be with the RFU head of discipline within 24 hours of the conclusion of the match'. A ruling designed deliberately to stop the RFU reacting to any media speculation, yet on its occasion it seems to have been over ruled.
Cockerill’s charge was announced on Monday the 3rd of June, a time scale of 9 DAYS after the event. So with the RFU Head of Discipline supposed receive this from the citing officer before 5pm on Sunday May 26 why announcement or any knowledge of the citing until Monday 3 rd of June?
Which ever way these two hearings go there is a huge potential for controversy and endless discussions of if each, lets just hope the IRB and RFU handle both with a true level of caution and suitable sanctions are taken.